The Official Fourth Season of BONANZA Volume 1 is most certainly a treat for fans of the series. The 18 complete, un-cut episodes are a joy to watch, especially since entire scenes had been removed to make way for more commercials on outlets such as TV Land. Ironically, it is three episodes that include sponsor promos that really make this a great buy. These (I'll call them special) episodes allow us to access the "Play Episode With Original NBC Network Logo, Bumpers & Chevrolet Promo" feature.
THE FIRST BORN: This episode ends with Lorne Greene saying QUOTE. "Hey, there's going to be a party. A big party right here at the Ponderosa next Sunday night and you're all invited. And we hope you'll all come because this party is shaping up as a real humdinger. Now, the big attraction will be four entirely different kinds of new exciting cars by Chevrolet for '63. Now, you'll see them at your Chevrolet dealers next friday, September the 28th, and then they'll turn up right here at the Ponderosa party after next weeks BONANZA show... Oh, and Fred MacMurray and his 3 sons will be here, and Bill Frawley, Marty Milner, George Maharis and the whole Bonanza gang...we'll all be here to help Chevrolet show off the new Chevrolets, Chevy II's, Covairs and Corvette Stingrays. Now, next weeks Bonanza will run uninterupted so that we'll all have time, after the story's over, for the whoppingest Ponderosa party you ever saw and a good long look at the new cars. So, see them at your Chevrolet dealers next Friday, September 28th, and then join us for Bonanza and the Ponderosa party. Oh, and by the way, tell your neighbors to come along." UNQUOTE. Quite the invite, eh?
THE QUEST: On 9-30-1962, this episode ran exactly as Lorne Greene had promised. With a running time of 58 minutes, we get to see most of it here.
It begins with Lorne Greene saying QUOTE. "Good evening. Tonight is a special event on Bonanza and I wanted you to know about it. First, our story will play right through without interuption, thanks to Chevrolet's cooperation, and secondly, immediately following the story, we're going to have that Ponderosa party you've been hearing about, to introduce the new 1963 Chevrolets...so stay with us for plenty of excitement" UNQUOTE. The Ponderosa party turns out to be quite the shindig, with cast members from "Route 66", "My Three Sons" and "Bonanza" all pitching for Chevrolet. I know I'll watch this one several times.
THE DESERTER: This episode ends with Lorne Greene explaining why we should buy a brand new 1963 Chevrolet Impala. Watching these sponsor spots within the context of the program brings back memories, which brings value to this DVD set. Ya gotta love it!
In the beggers can't be choosers department, I won't complain here that 15 (out of 18) of these episodes lacked this great feature. I'll just say thank you to CBS DVD for including the Chevrolet promos on those three episodes. Seasons 2 & 3 of "The Beverly Hillbillies" allow DVD viewers to watch every episode with the Kelloggs/Winston sponsor openings and closings. The first three seasons of "The Lucy Show" gives us the option of viewing most episodes with the vintage sponsor openings and closings restored. And, seasons 2 & 3 of "The Andy Griffith Show" have a Sponsor Spot feature, allowing us the pleasure of watching the 60 second cast commercials that ended each show, often adding to the plot, sort of a second epilog. These General Foods promos are very entertaining.
To the general public, I say this DVD set is fantastic. Other special features include some great commentaries and photos. If you love Bonanza, you'll love it. To CBS DVD, Chevrolet, and those involved in bringing Bonanza Season Five to DVD, I ask you to please consider opening up the Chevrolet Cast Commercial vault just a bit more. All but the final season of Bonanza was sponsored by Chevrolet. Plenty of chances to do this right and give consumers the treat they deserve. More Sponsor Spots! Thank you.